ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – A new class of officers from the St. Louis Police Academy graduated Monday, half of whom are African American.
Public Safety Director Richard Gray said he takes the job of minority recruitment seriously.
“You have to aggressively go to areas where you can find qualified candidates. To give an example, just last week we were at Arkansas-Pine Bluff recruiting,” Gray said. “The Texas Rangers were there, the FBI was there, and the St. Louis PD was there.”
Gray said the department actively competes for recruits at historically black colleges out of state and in St. Louis. According to police, only one third of those who apply to the police academy are African American. Of the 1250 commissioned officers in St. Louis, only 34 percent are African American. 50 percent of city residents are African American.
“When people look at law enforcement, they need to be able to see themselves and so when you’re in a community, I think you have to see officers or people that look like you, it helps people relate,” said St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson.
Monday, 37 new recruits joined the department; around half are African American.
The St. Louis Police Officers’ Association said it agrees that the department should strive to recruit officers that represent the racial make-up of the city. However, union reps also said pay may and the residency requirement may limit recruiting efforts.